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Sermon – The Dependence Choice [3/11/2012]
The Lord’s Prayer, Part III
This morning we’re continuing our sermon series on “The Lord’s Prayer.” Two Sundays ago we looked at the first phrase of The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name,” which we called the Prayer of Connection. Last Sunday, we looked at the second phrase of The Lord’s Prayer “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We called this phrase “The Prayer of Surrender”. This morning we’re looking at the third phrase of The Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” which I’m calling “The Prayer of Dependence.”
There was once an old tribal chief who was on his death bed and only had hours to live, when he suddenly smelled the scent of fry-bread wafting into his room. “Ahhh” he groaned. He loved fry-bread more than anything else in the whole world. With every bit of his remaining strength he pulled himself out of bed and made his way into the kitchen where his beloved wife, Lillian was kneading the dough for a new batch. As he reached for one of the steaming fry-breads, she smacked him on the back of his hand with her wooden spoon and said, “Leave them alone!” “They’re for your funeral!”
When Jesus instructs his disciples to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” what was it that Jesus had in mind?
There are several possible answers, but, first of all, it is very clear that Jesus had in mind physical bread. (flour, water and salt)
Bread, as in almost every culture of the known world, was the staff of life, the very basic food that supported life.
It’s important for us to remember again the people, the crowds who Jesus came to? He called them ptochos, the poor, the lowly, the afflicted and needy and the penes those who were so poor that they worked each day in order to eat that day.
This past week I listened to a radio program on NPR. Two graduate students, one from Harvard the other from MIT, had returned to their home country in India to try to an experiment. For a year, they dedicated themselves to living on less than $2/day like 80% or 960 million of their fellow citizens.
According to the United Nations 925 million or 1 in 7 people in the world live with hunger defined as an uneasy or painful sensation or exhaustion caused by want of food.
For most of the peasant class in the time of Jesus, enough food-was the primary survival issue.
The coming of the kingdom of God is about food. It’s about the material basis for life for everybody. It is about bread for the world.
Secondly, in the Bible, bread represents God’s word. In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy fearful that once having entered into the Promised Land “A land flowing with milk and honey” and experiencing abundance that the people will forget their dependence upon God.
Moses warns them saying, “Remember, the long way that God had led them for forty years in the wilderness in order to humble them and test them to know what was in their hearts whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, feeding you with manna of which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted to make you understand “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Some of you are familiar with and begin your day with a little devotional called The Daily Bread. We not only need bread to sustain our physical bodies but we also need spiritual bread the Living Word of God, the Scriptures to feed our soul.
Bread, in the Bible is also a symbol for the body of Christ or the Church. In the Act of the Apostles we read that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers.”
The Apostle Paul writes, “The bread which we break is it not a sharing in body of Christ.” So, in the New Testament bread is a metaphor for the fellowship of the church, “We are one body.” We not only have physical and spiritual needs but we have relational needs as well.
The fourth thing that bread represents in the Bible is salvation. When “Jesus took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me” he was choosing bread as the symbol of his body and sacrificial saving love. Jesus said, “I am The Bread of Life” whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never thirst again.”
When we participate in Communion, when we receive the bread, the body of Christ, and believe by faith that we have received Christ’s life as our own, we become participants in God’s plan of salvation. So whatever our need whether it’s physical, emotional, relational or spiritual, we ultimately find our sustenance. Our needs finally met in our surrender and dependence upon God.
Our dependence upon God for daily bread begins with looking to God as our source of everything “good”. In Psalm 104, the Psalmist writes “All of creation teams with life of every kind both great and small. Every one of these depends on you to give them their daily food. When you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” The Bible tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from the Father of lights above.” God is not only our source of our Daily Bread, but our supplier as well.
In Philippians 4:19 we read that “God will supply all our needs from his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. Whatever the bread we need whether it’s physical, spiritual, relational or emotional, God, from his great storehouse, has made all of these things available. It is ours for the asking, within reason of course. We are to ask, Jesus said, for “daily bread” not for the whole mother load.
When we’re greedy others are left needy. Jesus said “ask and you shall receive.” A lot of us struggle with this one. We may have asked for various things and then complain when we don’t readily see our requests fulfilled. But, I’m not always so sure that feeling that our needs have not been met are God’s fault.
You may have heard the one about the guy who had to climb out on his roof because of a terrible flood. A neighbor passed by in his canoe and yelled for him to “jump in” but the man said “no. The Lord said he will never leave me nor forsake me. I’m waiting on him to deliver me.” An hour or so later as the water continued to rise the deputy sheriff came by in his boat and yelled for him to jump in but the man answered back again “No, the Lord promised that he will never leave me nor forsake me. I’m waiting on him to deliver me.”
A few hours later the flood water was so high that he had to climb up on his chimney. When a helicopter came by and the pilot lowered a basket shouting to, “jump in, this is your last chance,” the man still refused and cried out over the noise of the helicopter,” The Lord promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I’m waiting on him to deliver me.”
Finally the flood waters rose and the man drowned. When the man entered into heaven and saw the Lord he was angry with God and said, “You broke your promise. You said, you would never leave me nor forsake me.” Looking at him with love and dismay God said to him “Who do you think it was who sent you your neighbor, the deputy sheriff and helicopter?
I believe that God is able to supply us with the bread we’re asking for, within reason, within God’s will, of course, but sometimes we just plain miss the answer that God has been holding out to us all along but, we’re still waiting around
for something more miraculous to happen.
Then, depending upon God for our daily bread first means having the faith that God is ultimately our source and supplier of all things good, and that he gives to those who ask.
The second way we depend upon God for our daily bread is to trust him for today. One day at a time.
Do you remember the story of the Hebrews who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years? Complaining of hunger, God provided them with “manna”, bread from heaven. But do you remember God provided only enough for one day at a time, except on Fridays when they could collect enough for two days so that they would not have to work on the Sabbath.
What would happen if the Hebrew’s collected more than what they needed for the day? It would rot! Grow moldy. Why? God, in is infinite wisdom knows us all too well. In fear of scarcity, we would begin to hoard for ourselves to try and take life into our own hands to have our life revolve around ourselves which can only end in enmity and strife.
Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body and what you will wear. Your heavenly father knows you need all these things. But, strive for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today’s trouble is enough for today. God, in his infinite mercy and wisdom says “I want you to trust me to live your life, just one day at a time and not to worry for, your life to revolve around me, to live your life within the just and gentle rule of my kingdom and see what happens.”
This is why Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” To depend upon God is to trust God one day at a time. It is also not to worry, but to make all things a matter of prayer seasoned with a spirit of thanks. Thank you God for your steadfast love and faithfulness that supports me, that has and will always make a way for me. If we do this the Apostle Paul writes “and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Finally, the third way we can depend on God to give us our daily bread is to share it. Everything God gives to us, he wants us to share. Notice Jesus does not call us to pray “Give me this day my daily bread.” Jesus teaches us to pray
“Give US this day OUR daily bread.”
Do you remember the story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000? A great multitude had been following Jesus when it was getting late. The disciples were concerned that the people were getting hungry and came to Jesus saying to him to tell the people to go home, but, Jesus tells them to feed the people themselves. His disciples protest, saying that all they have are a boy’s small lunch of a few loaves and fishes. Jesus takes the bread and fish and breaks them then having blessed them passes them out amongst the people. The Bible says that when everyone has had their fill there were still twelve baskets of bread and fish left over.
I like the way one commentator describes this miracle. He writes that once the baskets of bread and fish were being passed those who were seated on the hillside, realizing that there was not enough to feed everyone, took out what little they had brought with them and added it to the basket a kind of ripple effect throughout the multitude until all were filled. Now I ask you what is the greater miracle: the miraculous multiplying of bread or fish or getting others to be generous and share.
The third and final way we can depend on God to give us our daily bread is to share it. Remember it is not my daily bread but our daily bread.
And everyone has some bread to share whether its 5 loaves and two fish or two pennies or comforting others with the comfort with which we have been comforted by God or forgiving others as we ourselves have been forgiven or befriending the friendless as we ourselves have been befriended by Christ.
There are kinds of bread we have to share physical, emotional, relational and spiritual. All of us have some bread to share and there’s always enough for everyone. The law of reciprocity teaches us when we extend ourselves to meet the needs of others our own deepest needs will be met.
“Give and it shall be given unto you good measure pressed down and shaken together will be poured into your lap. For by the measure that you give you will receive.” And then of course there is the old saying, “Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back to you.”
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all. Day by day as they spent much time together in the temple they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts praising God and having the goodwill of all the people and day by day the Lord added to their number whose who were being saved.”
Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.”